Last week, eBay’s Daily Deal website featured more than the normal electronics, home goods and accessories one might expect to find. Deal hunters browsing the site were exposed to deeply discounted vehicles, as well.
Trying something new, Group 1 Automotive listed 28 vehicles on the site, including a Chevrolet Corvette offered for $60,305, a price which lands 15 percent below the vehicle’s sticker price.
Moreover, a Toyota Camry was offerred for $21,418, falling 19 percent below sticker. Other vehicles featured ran the price gamut, ranging from a $16,000 Scion to a $116,000 Corvette, and discounts ranged from 5 to 26 percent.
Participating Group 1 dealerships included stores in Oklahoma and Texas, featuring the Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan and Honda brands.
So, how did the special promotion turn out?
As of press time Group 1 Automotive representatives were not available for comment.
However, Famous Rhodes, senior director of eBay Motors, said it is too early to tell how sales for the Group 1 listings have fared because “sometimes deals can take days to close offline after a buyer and dealer make a connection through a listing.”
That said, one of the listed Corvettes boasted 11,000 hits within the first two hours it was posted and 46,000 hits by the end of that very same day. These numbers illustrate the inventory marketing possibilities for dealers, Rhodes stressed.
This is also only the second time eBay has offered vehicles on its Daily Deal site. In 2009, Wayne Ussery, Internet marketing director for Jim Ellis Auto, was approached by eBay representatives about piloting the Daily Deal promotion for new vehicles.
“I work personally with a lot of manufacturers, such as Kelley Blue Book, Carfax and eBay. eBay approached us knowing we were forward thinkers in the market, and this was something they hadn’t tried before. So, we were delving into it with them to see how it works, how a car would sell compared remote hard drive or flat screen TV,” said Ussery in an interview Monday with AuSM.
Jim Ellis Auto dealerships listed 20 Saabs — some of which were discounted by as much as 40 percent — and 20 Volkswagens. Out of these vehicles, the dealership group sold 11 Saabs, but no VWs.
“On the Saab front, the sales on the Daily Deals site definitely exceeded our expectations,” Ussery pointed out.
He then went on to explain the reasons behind the pilot’s sales outcome: “The concept of daily deals is that you post a price that you wouldn’t get if you walked into a store and tried to buy the same thing.
“With Saab, we posted aged inventory that wasn’t selling. That was right at the time that they were filing for bankruptcy; people were not sure if they wanted a Saab or not. So, we were able to be very aggressive in pricing and had manufacturer’s money to help get rid of cars.
"We took the money from manufacturers and spread it out. With the Volkswagen units, we didn’t have that, and we didn’t want to bend down the price nearly as far by ourselves,” he concluded.
Despite, the lack of VW sales, Ussery said he would definitely be up for listing vehicles on the site again, if approached.
He also noted that if dealers can figure out how to offer competitive prices, he would “definitely suggest participating in similar promotions.”
“It is a great idea, but the challenge is the price needs to be so good that people won’t pass up on it, and there are only a few makes or models of cars that dealers are willing to or are backed by manufacturers to sell something that cheap,” Ussery said.
Ussery noted when Jim Ellis Auto participated in the promotion, parameters were that all the vehicles had to be new.
“With pre-owned vehicles you might have some more room to work with price, but with new cars, it’s the manufacturer retail price; that’s what you have to work with,” Ussery concluded.
When asked whether or not eBay would consider offering pre-owned vehicles on the site, Rhodes said, “Currently the promotion is designed for new vehicles. The most important factor is the right inventory at the right price to provide value to both consumers and dealers.”
Even with the promotion’s pilot success and the outlook looking good so far this time around, it remains difficult to find inventory for programs like these.
Rhodes noted that since Jim Ellis Auto participated, company officials have continued to request vehicles for the Daily Deal site from dealerships. That said, the inventory offered by Group 1 was the first suitable batch that came through since the pilot, according to the company.
Company officials noted that eBay has not begun planning for more vehicle sales on the Daily Deals site but is willing to work with dealers on future promotions.
“We are happy to work with other dealers on similar promotions,” said Rhodes.
“Again, the most important factor is offering consumers inventory for an attractive price point while also driving sales and marketing opportunities for dealers, exposing their inventory to a national audience of more than 14 million consumers visiting eBay Motors each month,” he concluded.